Monday, March 28, 2016

Book Tour for The Total Package by Stephanie Evanovich (Review & GIVEAWAY)

As a fan of sports-themed romances I was thrilled to get my hands on it and even more excited to introduce you to this tale of second-chance loves and remaking your image after destroying it.  Keep reading to get a tempting glimpse of The Total Package by Stephanie Evanovich, along with my impressions of it, and learn even more about this book by visiting the other sites hosting this tour.  In honor of this emotionally intense read make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win 1 of 2 hardcover copies of this book too!

Smart and sexy Dani Carr knows as much about football as any man--maybe more. It’s always been her dream to make a living talking about the game she loves. But Dani’s not interested in being just the usual eye-candy sideline reporter; she wants to be the first woman analyst on a pre-game show, the ultimate in exclusive boys-club jobs. And it turns out, that despite the odds, she has the talent to get her there.
Star quarterback-and heartthrob--Tyson Palmer always did things in spectacular fashion, including ruining his career after debuting as a first-round draft pick. When the head coach of the Austin Mavericks refuses to let him waste his million dollar arm, Tyson makes a Hail Mary pass at redemption and succeeds with everyone…except Dani, who appears to be using her high-profile commentator job to make a name for herself at his expense.
Dani refuses to let anyone forget about Tyson’s transgressions….and for good reason. There’s history between these two, sizzling history that dates back to their college days, and it ended in another spectacular flame-out of Tyson’s. He’s conveniently forgotten all about that episode because Dani is no longer the cute girl next door he barely remembers--she’s a bombshell with huge ratings and a long memory.
But can a woman trying to claw her way to the top and a quarterback who knows all about rock bottom make it to the Super Bowl without destroying each other in the process? And what will happen when Tyson-riding high on his career comeback-realizes he needs to make an even more important comeback with Dani?


Within the last three years, the adjectives attached to Tyson Palmer’s name slowly morphed into overrated, reprehensible. A real waste. Wanting to stay in his father’s good graces, Tyson had often joined him in his downhill slide. Douglas Palmer proved a bad example. Tyson took responsibility for his mother’s heartbreak, stuffed all the hurt and pain deep down inside, and set the sequence on his time bomb to self-destruct.
Coming back here was supposed to be a kind of victory lap. But Tyson wasn’t being followed by throngs of alumni or asked to attend any ceremonies, not even the ones taking place on the football field. He wasn’t invited to any parties. Instead Tyson had been forced to retreat to the Bunker, where he was pointed at from a safe distance, like an animal in a zoo. Occasionally someone would approach him, politely engage him for a few moments, mostly about the weather, and be on their way. Nothing to see here—the phrase cops always used to move spectators along from a crime scene. His teammates and Blitz management had tried to be supportive . . . in the beginning. But it wasn’t long before Tyson’s shenanigans robbed him of his ability to lead, and they all had grown weary of him, even before he started racking up more interceptions than touchdowns on game day. He knew that within the next twenty-four hours his dirty drug test results would leave him jobless and probably tossed out of the league.
The book they were getting ready to throw at him was heavy. I sure won’t miss those cold Massachusetts winters, he thought to console himself.
Bloodshot eyes focused on a face that was vaguely familiar. It was a wisp of a ghost brushing by him. Someone insignificant, but at the same time, not—pretty, but low maintenance. Dark hair, hazel eyes with a glint of determination magnified through the lenses of her glasses. When he’d seen her last, she had something he needed. And something he’d wanted.
“Helen?” he tried to zero in. They had spent quality time together, at least for a while. He hadn’t seen her naked, but it probably wasn’t from lack of trying. Those whose pants he didn’t get into were much more likely to stand out. “Ellen?"
“Ella,” she said hopefully. “I was your English tutor, in your senior year?"
Now he remembered. A flash that was stark and vivid, from the predrug days, before those first few injuries that weren’t so quick to heal. She had been one of several students handpicked by the administration when he fell short on his classes during football season. Hired for several hours a week to basically cram the exams into his skull and dictate his essays to him. He wasn’t stupid, but he also didn’t make it easy. Back then he thought about nothing but football and was easily distracted when it came to anything else. “Right.” He smiled at her, feeling the warm nostalgic wave. Her last name was something Italian.“Ella Bella."
He had made up the cheesy nickname for her on a rainy afternoon four weeks into that semester, after they abandoned meeting at the library in favor of his dorm room. When he decided he would rather make out than recite the answers to an upcoming test. She was appealing enough, fresh faced and makeup free, a sophomore who had held on to her freshman fifteen. Not girlfriend material, but he wasn’t looking for a girlfriend.
And after one delicious kiss, Ella Bella had shot him down. Not in cold blood, of course; she’d stammered through the willing-to-date-him speech, but he’d never asked her for a date, and casual sex was off the table. She told him that she was still a virgin and she planned on staying that way. Something about a virgin never failed to make a horny guy hum. Tyson jokingly asked her to bang him every time they were together after that, but he was hardly brokenhearted when she laughed him off. There was always someone else on the sidelines. It was more his way of telling her he was available if she ever wanted to change her mind. He began to view her more like a little sister, especially since she could talk football better than any other girl he knew at school, even better than some of his teammates.
“You remember?” She smiled back at him, and then giggled. He still had it. And clearly she knew nothing of what was happening in his world. These days he was on almost every woman’s shit list.




Romances that blend the theme of sports with characters who reinvent themselves are amongst my favorites, which is what drew me to this story at first.  Though it sometimes dragged it was the character of Tyson and his journey to be a better man that kept me turning the pages of this good story. Add in secrets that the heroine is keeping and you end up with a story that's emotionally intense at times as well as inspirational.

Tyson was once the star of the football team until his vices dragged him down. With only an ultimatum left to him he grabbed on to it, but in the process hurt the one woman who truly cared for him by loving and leaving her.  He's still rebuilding his image years later, atoning for past wrongs, and becoming a more appealing and mature man.  He's quit partying and devoted himself to the game, but soon he can't ignore the sexy spitfire on the sidelines and sets out to claim her.  Unbeknownst to him, she's the girl from his past who supported him when no one else would and as they get closer painful truths will come out. Tyson was rather unlikable early on with his callous attitude and arrogance.  His addictions brought him low and it was an admirable journey watching him find himself.  It was a subtle but powerful journey and handled sensitively by the author.  The older Tyson was much more likable and I ached for him and for all he missed.  He's more worthy of his HEA now though, but it won't be easy as there's a lot of anger and deceit hanging between him and Dani.

Dani knew Tyson from long ago as she was his tutor who he knew as Ella.  She always loved him which had her making a decision that would change her life irrevocably.  Years later she's still drawn to him but he doesn't remember her. It's time to start over for her too, time to forgive but also to tell the truth.  It's a truth that will change them both as well as their future.  Dani was a determined woman who loved Tyson despite everything he did.  While I didn't appreciate her keeping secrets I could understand it.  Despite the passage of time though I still found her a bit immature at times which left me frustrated by my inability to connect too deeply with her.

This was a story that often dragged.  Too many mundane events were depicted that slowed the narrative down along with lengthy time jumps.  The story's written in the third person POV which kept me from fully connecting with the characters but their banter was fun and flirty at times which charmed me.  The secondary characters were enjoyable as well, especially Dani's family and the group of friends Tyson now surrounds himself with.  On a whole, despite my small quibbles, this was a good read that got better as the story progressed as I was drawn to Tyson and his journey of healing.

My rating for this is a C+

*I got this book from Edelweiss for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


New York Times Bestselling Author, Stephanie Evanovich is a full-fledged Jersey girl from Asbury Park who began writing fiction while waiting for her cues during countless community theater projects. She attended New York’s School of Film and Television and acted in several improvisational troupes and a few small-budget movies, all in preparation for the greatest job she ever had, raising her two sons. Now a full-time writer, she’s an avid sports fan who holds a black belt in tae kwon do.


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